The tale of Sweeney Todd has had many incarnations, most famously the stage and movie musical by Stephen Sondheim. But it all started in 1846 with a serialized telling of the story titled “The String of Pearls” in the weekly magazine “The People's Periodical and Family Library”. Called by some a romance, by others a horror story, it is one of the earliest murder mysteries. In “The String of Pearls”, Sweeney Todd is less sympathetic than in some of his later incarnations – a perfect villain, totally self-seeking with no redeeming qualities. How the deeds of Todd are uncovered and how he is brought to justice make a most intriguing tale, but one probably not suited for the very young and certainly not for the squeamish. (Summary by John Lieder).
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